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Bring ‘Nature’ within your home and conserve it in your way

28 July, 2021 11:19:33
Bring ‘Nature’ within your home and conserve it in your way

Saheli Mitra is a passionate gardener and runs her own tree group called To Trees With Love. She is also a post-graduate in Environmental Biology

We often say, ‘Look Within.’ I say ‘Bring Nature Within.’ You do not then need to look out, travel, lead marches against felling of trees by authorities or others. If each of us can create an urban jungle in whatever little space we live in, we can actually create acres of plant life within our living space. That is probably the only way we can conserve nature in the long run. Else, no amount of activism will prompt Nature Conservation with the Amazon rainforests being burnt, with bushfires in Australia, with acres of jungles cleared in countries like India for development of roads etc. As technology marches on, as civilisations grow, nature will bear the brunt and only individual approach to loving and caring for a seed sprouting into a seedling will help us turn our ‘home’ into a green space and save on energy, electricity, food and lots more.

I will tell you how. Two memories still play around that turned me a die-hard (some call me mad) nature lover, spending thousands after buying plants, manure, tending them and their upkeep at the cost of health, money, time etc. But I need to do that, I badly need those fluttering green leaves staring at me every morning as I open my eyes, my yellow Alamonda plant with its sun-kissed or rain-drenched flowers peeping at me through the windows. I need that squirrel hopping on our Plumeria and Balsam every day searching for food, as I sit with my laptop in my green urban space, my green work-station. I need the bees and butterflies popping in and out, with some even invading indoors with my son running around in fear of being stung! Yet, I need them for they tell me ‘life goes on.’ The eternal life-cycle moves beyond clouds, stars, trees, creatures and Me. The excitement they create around is unfathomable. 

And what were those memories? The day my mom who herself is a big-time gardener recited the poem of Rabindranath Tagore where he says after travelling thousands of miles, he returns to his own land where he missed a dewdrop on a leaf blade. Imagine, if you do not have leaves around, how on an autumn morning you will see dewdrops? If you did not have flowers blooming in your garden, how would you know what are the colours of a rainbow? And if birds do not visit you, twittering on the branches, how will you know what music is all about?

I am happy to see even my friends staying in urban flats with small balconies are also into small-space gardening. That’s an art that many often share on my Tree Group, where in the same container you can grow several vegetables together. Well, veggies are the in-thing today. To beat deadly diseases like cancer, the doctors advise you to grow your own vegetables. And trust me some veggies grow very easily. Chillies, tomatoes, brinjals, bhindi, dhania, lettuce, bitter gourds and gourds. Just keep their seeds and throw them on big drums or plastic containers that you would otherwise throw away. Why increase the plastic load? Instead recycle them as veggie pots. Trust me growing your own vegetables comes with its perks, you enjoy pesticide free fresh sprouts and the happiness it gives to see the veggie growing can never be bought with any sum of money.


The other memory that had turned me into an ardent gardener was the sprouting of a pumpkin seed I had sown in my childhood just for fun. The germination, the sprout, then the climber, the tendrils looking for support and finally the fruiting… they all taught me life’s incredible lessons… look for opportunities, never give up, even when no one cares for you, life springs from nowhere, reproduces, produces, gives you back. Yes, that’s what nature is all about. It truly Gives You Back. You cut on your food buy from the markets, you make your home cooler, you need to use less air conditioning, thus you also contribute to decreasing green-house gases and protecting environment. Even if you do not have much space outside, you can always bring plants indoors. 

Indoor plants purifying the urban polluted air is a big healing tool these days. Be it the Peace Lily or the Anthurium or even succulents and cacti, they will take care of the air you breathe in. Create that microcosm within your space, how very tiny it is. One day while driving down a highway in Bengal, I had stopped at a ramshackle tea-stall where the owner and his family lived and served tea and biscuits to travellers like me. As I was waiting there sipping tea, I suddenly observed in that small space, they had made a macha on their roof and quite a number of bottle gourds were growing in splendour, while some chilli plants around were bearing red chillies already. So, where there is a will there is a way. 

And trust me Nature is the most resilient winner, humans have ever come across. It will continue to overwhelm us, so best is to embrace it like I did all my life. And you will be rewarded. I thus keep smiling as a baby Hill Mynah (popularly called Shalik) born in our garden, learns to fly with its doting parents teaching it nature’s ways. And every time it sees me with my camera on, she flips and runs away for cover. I do not chase her, for I know she will come to me on her own. Nature will come within, give it a way to and it will heal all of us in our own small space.

Image Courtesy: Saheli Mitra

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